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LA and Houston,
Sharapova and Federer:
The 2004 Year End
Championships in Review
by Cliff Kurtzman, USTWA
Publisher and Editor in Chief, Tennis Server

This past month, I had the opportunity to attend both the Women's WTA Tour Championships out in Los Angeles and the Men's Masters Cup Championships held in Houston. Our readers are always curious about what the players and the events are like, but few have the opportunity to attend these kinds of events or have access to the players in the way that a Tennis Server reporter enjoys as a member of the press. So in covering these events, I try to look at them from the perspective of giving our readers some insight into what it is like to be there that goes beyond the details of the daily matches, which are well reported elsewhere.

Tennis Server readers sent me well over a hundred questions to ask the top players. I was successful in getting a good number of those questions answered, and my next column will focus on the player Q&A. While the events are still fresh in my mind, however, I wanted to use to this issue of Wild Cards to provide my impressions of the events themselves, the various players involved, and many of the ancillary news items that occurred simultaneous with the championships.

WTA Tour Championships 2004

WTA 2004 Championships Players on Porsche SUV
From left: Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Vera Zvonareva, Amelie Mauresmo, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova,
Anastasia Myskina (only arm is visible).

The WTA Championships in Los Angeles started out with a game of "How many female tennis stars can you fit on a Porsche Cayenne SUV?" The answer is eight: two on the roof, two on the hood, and four more leaning against the doors. Prior to the start of the tournament, the players were invited by Porsche to come out and race the Cayenne SUV's on a prepared course. Amelie Mauresmo won the time trials with the fastest time, while Svetlana Kuznetsova and Lindsay Davenport came in second and third. Seventeen year old Maria Sharapova was at a distinct disadvantage, only having obtained her driving license a few months earlier. Promised opportunities for members of the press to take a spin in the Porsche's with the players never materialized, but still the event provided an interesting way to see the players off the court in a setting where they were out having a good bit of fun. Jennifer Capriati [photo] also came out to participate in the Porsche races.

The tennis itself took place inside the cavernous Staples Center in Los Angeles, and I was there for the first two days of the action before heading back to Houston to cover the Masters Cup. The Staples Center, home of the Lakers basketball team, is a huge indoor stadium. Serena Williams grew up not far from the Staples Center, and she was a large draw and crowd favorite. The past two years of the event drew a largely empty venue for many of the sessions. This year there was a significant marketing push by the WTA and its marketing partners, and ads featuring somewhat controversial shots of seventeen year old Maria Sharapova in rather provocative poses dotted Los Angeles billboards. Stands were initially nearly empty at the start of play on the first night, but over the course of the evening attendance grew to 8,127, setting a record for first night attendance at the WTA Championships, but still not nearly filling the stadium.

Staples is a lovely arena, but the atmosphere inside seemed a bit challenging. The indoor venue didn't provide nearly the same kind of electric atmosphere that the outdoor stadium in Houston provided for the Masters Cup. Many of the fans didn't seem to have a clue as to proper tennis etiquette--at one point partying fans started singing "Happy Birthday To You" to one of their group right in the middle of a point during the opening night match between Serena Williams and Anastasia Myskina. The court layout also provided rather narrow margins outside of the doubles sidelines, on at least one occasion causing a player to go into the wall in an attempt to chase down a ball. Security guards, stationed right next to the players chairs on each changeover, were likely necessary giving the venue. Organized groups of spirited fans, chanting, cheering, and waving signs and posters for specific players between points added considerable character in Houston at the Masters Cup, but was largely lacking in Los Angeles.

I'll try to provide my impressions of the eight players that participated in the singles tournament, and make some predictions for where I see their respective games going in the future. In the WTA Championships, the eight players are initially divided into two groups of four. Each player plays a best-of-three-set match against each of the other three players in their group. For the semi-finals, the top player in the first group then plays the number two player in second group, while the top player in the second group plays the number two player in the first group. The winners of the two semi-finals then meet in the finals. The results in Los Angeles were as follows:

  1. Vera Zvonareva. Lost to Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4; lost to Mauresmo 6-1, 6-0; lost to Sharapova 6-4, 7-5.

    Vera Zvonareva
    Vera Zvonareva.

    Zvonareva is a trip to watch--but the game she is playing isn't always tennis... she moves fast and is tenacious on the court, but her most notable attribute is that her tennis is constantly accompanied by streams of tears and racquet banging. After an opening night loss to Kuznetsova, she left the stadium without doing her press interview. Kuznetsova commented "She has always been like this. And once I lost to her because she starts crying... I mean, it is not just today she was frustrated. Vera is just going crazy on the court, you know." Unlike McEnroe's famous on court theatrics, Zvonareva's don't seem to get her game going any better. Her dramatics might on occasion unnerve an opponent, but that advantage gets old fast once other players learn to ignore it. Bottom line is that I saw a player lacking significant strengths, and having major mental lapses that will likely interfere with her ability to reach the top level of the game.

    More Vera Zvonareva photos from the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

  2. Svetlana Kuznetsova. Beat Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4; lost to Mauresmo 6-3, 6-2; lost to Sharapova 6-1, 6-4.

    Svetlana Kuznetsova
    Svetlana Kuznetsova.

    The 19 year old U.S. Open champ is a real scrapper, with a positive attitude and the drive to continue to mature and improve her game. Her subsequent losses in the Fed Cup finals came as a real surprise. I look for her to continue to improve and appear at the top levels of the woman's game with greater frequency.

    More Svetlana Kuznetsova photos from the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

  3. Elena Dementieva. Lost to Davenport 6-0, 6-1; lost to Myskina 6-3, 6-3; lost to S. Williams 7-6(3), 7-5.

    Elena Dementieva
    Elena Dementieva.

    Graceful on the court, but lacking major firepower or a strong serve, her prospects to stay at the top of the game seem limited.

    More Elena Dementieva photos from the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

  4. Lindsay Davenport. Beat Dementieva 6-0, 6-1; lost to Myskina 7-6(5), 6-4; beat S. Williams 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

    Lindsay Davenport
    Lindsay Davenport.
    Lindsay Davenport Bobblehead Doll
    Lindsay Davenport Bobblehead Doll. They gave them away at the WTA Championships. We couldn't explain it. Nor could Lindsay!

    Smart, thoughtful, and articulate, getting to interview Davenport was a real pleasure. With Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters sidelined, Serena and Venus Williams playing at less than 100%, and Myskina and Mauresmo likely to choke at a moment's notice, there is no dominant player on the women's tour. Seemingly on the verge of retirement earlier in the year, Lindsay ended 2004 with the number one ranking, and if she can stay healthy, she knows there is a clear opening for her to pick up some more Grand Slam titles in 2005 before she retires.

    More Lindsay Davenport photos from the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

  5. Anastasia Myskina. Lost to S. Williams 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; beat Dementieva 6-3, 6-3; beat Davenport 7-6(5), 6-4. Lost to Sharapova 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-finals.

    Anastasia Myskina
    Anastasia Myskina.

    French Open champ Myskina, looking so thin as cause me to wonder about anorexia, showed periods of impressive firepower in Los Angeles. But she also choked away a match against Serena that she had all but wrapped up... behavior that has been a recurrent problem with her game the past year. She has the potential to remain at the top levels of the game in 2005, and if she can get her mental game in order, she will likely add some more big wins to her resume.

  6. Amelie Mauresmo. Beat Zvonareva 6-1, 6-0; beat Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2; beat Sharapova 7-5, 6-4. Lost to S. Williams 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in the semi-finals.

    Amelie Mauresmo
    Amelie Mauresmo.

    The only player to finish the round robin without a loss, Mauresmo went into the semi-finals looking strong. Like Myskina, Mauresmo has a reputation for choking close and important matches. In her semi-final match with Serena, Mauresmo lost the second set after being up a break, and then the third set turned into a mutual choke-fest, with Serena coming out the winner, and with Mauresmo's chances of overtaking Davenport for the year end number one ranking going down the drain. Like Davenport, Mauresmo has strong chances for some big wins in 2005.

    More Amelie Mauresmo photos from the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

  7. Serena Williams. Beat Myskina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; beat Dementieva 7-6(3), 7-5; lost to Davenport 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. Beat Mauresmo 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in the semi-finals; and lost to Sharapova 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the finals.

    Serena Williams
    Serena Williams.
    Serena Williams
    Serena Williams.

    When she's on, Serena has the fire power to dominate any other player on the Woman's tour. And when she isn't on... Serena proved in Los Angeles that she sure knows how to be lucky! Injuries have sidetracked Serena over the past year, as well as preoccupations with off court activities stemming from her celebrity status and her aspirations as a fashion designer. If Serena can stay healthy and get her mindset really focused on tennis, she can dominate the woman's field... but I won't place all my bets on that happening. Serena was lucky to beat Myskina due to a Myskina choke, survived Dementieva in a close match with the help of the Russian's nine double faults, lost to Davenport; beat Mauresmo besting her in a mutual choke-fest, and lost to Sharapova after an injury in the finals. The tournament was hardly her finest performance.

    More Serena Williams photos from the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

  8. Maria Sharapova. Beat Zvonareva 6-4, 7-5; beat Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-4; lost to Mauresmo 7-5, 6-4. Beat Myskina 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-finals; and beat S. Williams 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the finals.

    Maria Sharapova
    Maria Sharapova.
    Maria Sharapova
    Maria Sharapova.

    "Well she was just seventeen, you know what I mean, and the way she looked was way beyond compare." Talking to Maria Sharapova is talking to a teenager that is doing a pretty good job coping with the fame and stardom being thrust upon her since her Wimbledon Championship--but who is still just seventeen, with a good bit of growing up remaining. She told me that the attention she has gotten just "blows her mind" and she is the first to admit that she is living a dream. She has a big if somewhat inconsistent game, her ability to hit winners often seems to improve under pressure, and she has a strong mental attitude, with plenty of room for growth and improvement. Time will tell is she is able to mature into a dominating force on the tour, but the potential is clearly there.

    Sharapova won the championship off of a significantly injured Serena, who could barely get her serves over the net, and was going for (and often achieving) point ending winners at every opportunity. Serena's unbelievable shot making put her up 4-0 in the third set, before she finally ran out of steam and luck and Sharapova took the final six games to win the Championships--an achievement more due to Serena's abdominal injury than Sharapova's playing championship tennis.

    Sharapova's father, Yuri, has become the sport's newest poster father for poor parental conduct, costing Sharapova a coaching warning at the Championships. His behavior at the conclusion of the finals was abhorent. Tennis Server reader Ed Richards wrote noting that "When Sharapova won the match her father came running onto the court and started grabbing her and hugging her. Then he started pumping his fists and arms as a sign of victory. I can see that he was happy for his daughter but I think his behavior was out of line. When he went back into the stands it looked as if he cursed at someone. I believe the WTA should not allow her father (or anyone) to run out on the court and this should be made clear to him. Of course no player's support team should be allowed on the court. Clearly some procedure to protect tennis from such boorish behavior is needed." We agree!

    More Maria Sharapova photos from the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

As we head into 2005, there is no clear cut dominant player or players in the woman's game. Sharapova, Serena Williams, Davenport, Mauresmo, Myskina, Kuznetsova, along with Capriati, Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters and Venus Williams, all seem potentially capable of winning major events, and it is not unlikely that we will see a couple of new entrants into the top ranks over the next year.

Masters Cup 2004

The atmosphere this year at the Westside Tennis Club in Houston was noticeably calmer and less stressed than in 2003. Gone were so many of the controversies that had been at the forefront a year earlier, as described in our Masters Cup Preview. The player facilities at the event had been significantly upgraded, giving each of the singles players a private suite, and the players seemed to be notably pleased with their accommodations and the overall operation of the tournament. The tournament organizer significantly toned down his partisanship towards the American players, and line call controversies, though present, seemed much fewer and farther between.

Gallery Furniture Stadium at 2004 Masters Cup
Gallery Furniture Stadium at 2004 Masters Cup.

This year the court surface was installed on the level, because last year some of the players had complained about it sloping--the complaint had seemed rather frivolous at the time, as outdoor courts are normally slightly sloped to enhance drainage. Then an article came out this November in the Houston Chronicle, adding a new twist to the story. The article indicated that in 2003, the court had not only been sloped, but it had been sloped improperly due to an inches-to-centimeters conversion error on the part of the contractor installing the court. This made the player's complaints more understandable. The United States once lost a space probe to Mars that failed due to a metric conversion error, so I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that the same kind of mistake could mess up a tennis court! In any event, for 2004 the court was made completely level, and the players seemed quite pleased with the stadium. The fans seemed to enjoy the access that the Westside Tennis Club gave them to the players as they entered and exited the stadium, as well the opportunity it provided the fans to visit the players close up as they engaged in their daily practices throughout the week. The only real negative related to the facility that I can recall was an embarrassing incident that occurred during one of the singles matches--the stadium started unexpectedly filling with smoke--speculation was that it was due to unusual wind patterns causing cooking smoke from the barbecue food concessionaire outside the stadium to blow over the stadium wall and then down onto the court. Only in Texas!

A big plus at the Westside Tennis Center this year was the addition of Coach Wayne Bryan, father of Mike and Bob Bryan, who served as master of ceremonies, energizing the crowd between matches and keeping audience enthusiasm levels high, despite the rain delays. Overall the experience at Westside seemed a vastly superior environment to what the Staples Center had offered up a week earlier at the WTA Championships.

Coach Bryan with Doubles Champions Mike and Bob Bryan
Coach Wayne Bryan flanked by 2004 Doubles Champions Mike and Bob Bryan.

Bud Collins
Bud Collins at closing ceremonies.
During the closing ceremonies of the tournament, Bud Collins observed that he believed that the stadium at Westside provided the finest tennis viewing experience in the world, better even than center court at Wimbledon--based on the response from the audience in the stands, there were clearly many in the crowd that agreed with his assessment.

Perhaps the biggest story affecting the tournament this year was the rain... lots of rain, causing numerous delays and postponements of the matches, necessitating some of the doubles matches to be played on a court outside of the stadium court, and reducing the Masters Cup singles finals down to a best-of-three-set contest instead of the usual best-of-five-set contest. Unfortunately, the ESPN television coverage of the event was also affected, undoubtedly causing a significant drop in audience share and interest from those that would have otherwise watched the event had the tournament proceeded on schedule. A lot of discussion ensued in the press concerning the wisdom of holding a November tennis event outdoors. Certainly from a fans perspective, having the event outdoors is a vastly better experience when the weather cooperates. But from the point of view of being able to engage large audiences in viewing the event on television, an indoor stadium offers significant benefits in terms of scheduling dependability. For the next three years at least, the Masters Cup will be held in an indoor facility in Shanghai, mitigating this issue.

Handing of the Masters Cup flag over to the Shanghai delegation
Handing the Masters Cup flag over the the Shanghai delegation was probably Jim McIngvale's (in light gray sweatshirt) most difficult task at the 2004 Masters Cup.

A phenomenal production was put on by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the ATP, and Love Advertising (the public relations firm for the Westside Tennis Club) to support the needs of the media present at the Masters Cup event, along with feeding information to media wishing to cover the event but unable to attend in person. (The WTA provided similar support, on a somewhat lesser scale, at the Staples Center.) A Tennis Server Wild Cards article from March 2004, U.S. Professional Tennis: In Crisis was critical of the ITF and ATP's inability to attract U.S. media outlets to cover the 2003 Masters Cup, so this year I took an inventory of all the media outlets having desks at the Masters Cup media center. I unfortunately cannot report that the situation was much if any better in 2004. While there were media outlets covering the tournament from places such as China, Korea, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Israel, Switzerland, Spain and even Moldova, and many of the various U.S. newswire services and tennis magazines were at the event, direct coverage from U.S. newspapers outside of Texas was virtually non-existent. Bud Collins and a colleague where there from the Boston Globe, with only a couple of other domestic newspapers apparently sending reporters or photographers.

Eight Masters Cup Singles Players and Alternate
Opening Ceremony, singles players from left: Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Carlos Moya, Guillermo Coria, Tim Henman, Gaston Gaudio, Guillermo Canas (alternate).

As I did for the women, I'll try to provide my impressions of the eight players that participated in the tournament, and make some predictions for where I see their respective games going in the future. The round-robin/semi-finals/finals format of play at the Masters Cup was the same as that used at the WTA Championships. The results in Houston were as follows:

  1. Gaston Gaudio. Lost to Federer 6-1, 7-6(4); lost to Moya 6-3, 6-4; lost to Hewitt 6-2, 6-1.

    Gaston Gaudio
    Gaston Gaudio.

    French Open Champion Gaudio was out of his league on the hard courts, having gained a berth in the tournament held open for a player winning a grand slam and ending up in the top twenty, but not in the top eight. His taking the number eight position in the draw unfortunately bumped Andre Agassi out of the tournament. After Andre's previous strong showing, advancing to the finals of the 2003 Masters Cup and thrilling the audience with exciting play, his absence was keenly felt at the 2004 tournament.

    More Gaston Gaudio photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

  2. Guillermo Coria. Lost to Safin 6-1, 6-4; lost to Henman 6-2, 6-2; lost to Roddick 7-6(4), 6-3.

    Guillermo Coria
    Guillermo Coria.

    Another player that excels on clay, Coria was initially expected to miss the tournament due to injury. On his first outing back after recovering from shoulder surgery, Coria's performance was impressive given his circumstances, but his serve ran about 20 mph slower than the rest of his colleagues, costing him competitive chances.

    More Guillermo Coria photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

  3. Tim Henman. Lost to Roddick 7-5, 7-6(6); beat Coria 6-2, 6-2; lost to Safin 6-2, 7-6(2).

    Tim Henman
    Tim Henman.
    Tim Henman
    Tim Henman.

    Tim came to Houston with a great attitude and clear joy at having made the event. His two losses to Roddick and Safin were in fairly close matches. He can play competitively with the very top players and is clearly looking for big accomplishments in 2005.

    More Tim Henman photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

  4. Carlos Moya. Lost to Hewitt 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4; beat Gaudio 6-3, 6-4; lost to Federer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

    Carlos Moya
    Carlos Moya.
    Carlos Moya
    Carlos Moya.

    Moya was also coming off of a shoulder injury, and was slightly lacking in match toughness and consistency. He was the only player to take a set off of Federer during the tournament, although that was more related to Federer having an uncharacteristically poor day than because of Moya's play, with Federer having been up to 3 am that same morning after completing his (rain delayed) match from the previous day.

    More Carlos Moya photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

  5. Marat Safin. Beat Coria 6-1, 6-4; lost to Roddick 7-6(7), 7-6(4); beat Henman 6-2, 7-6(2). Lost to Federer 6-3, 7-6(18) in the semi-finals.

    Marat Safin
    Marat Safin.
    Marat Safin
    Marat Safin.

    Safin has a huge power game when he is "on," and has made tremendous strides during the latter half of 2004 to keep his temper in check and not let it disrupt his game. The results have been evident with his strong results over the past few months during the European indoor season, and they were evident in Houston as well. Safin lost to Roddick in the round-robin by the slimmest of margins. His semi-final match with Federer ended in an absolutely phenomenal 20-18 tie-break that took 26 minutes and 38 seconds to complete. During the course of the tie-break, Federer saved six set points and won the tie-break on his eighth match point. The 20-18 score tied a record for the longest tie-break in professional men's singles history, originally set in a 1993 U.S. Open match between Goran Ivanisevic and Daniel Nestor. Always seeming good-natured despite some close losses on the court, Safin proved to nearly always amuse and bemuse the press with his candid comments during his post match press interviews.

    More Marat Safin photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

  6. Andy Roddick. Beat Henman 7-5, 7-6(6); beat Safin 7-6(7), 7-6(4); beat Coria 7-6(4), 6-3. Lost to Hewitt 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals.

    Andy Roddick
    Andy Roddick.
    Andy Roddick
    Andy Roddick.

    The Andy Roddick that showed up in Houston this year seemed a rather different fellow than had been there in 2003. Gone was his appearance as guest host on Saturday Night Live the day before the event, and also gone was high profile girlfriend Mandy Moore. Andy looked stronger, steadier, more consistent, and more willing to take points at the net. Then came his semi-final match-up with Hewitt, in which he just appeared to have a bad day, and never really got into the match. During the tournament Andy broke the 1000 ace mark for the season, joining Goran Ivanisevic and Pete Sampras as the only players to go over 1,000 since the ATP started keeping records in 1991.

    More Andy Roddick photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

  7. Lleyton Hewitt. Beat Moya 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4; lost to Federer 6-3, 6-4; beat Gaudio 6-2, 6-1. Beat Roddick 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals. Lost to Federer 6-3, 6-2 in the finals.

    Lleyton Hewitt
    Lleyton Hewitt.
    Lleyton Hewitt
    Lleyton Hewitt.

    Hewitt, who didn't make the draw of the 2003 event, after having won the Masters Cup in 2001 and 2002, appeared strong and consistent throughout the 2004 tournament even if lacking some of the big firepower that Roddick and Safin brought to the table. But he also got a bit lucky to get Roddick on a very poor day, and he never came close to getting Federer's number. In his match with Roddick, Hewitt won the last 20 points (five games) without Roddick seeing a single point.

    More Lleyton Hewitt photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

  8. Roger Federer. Beat Gaudio 6-1, 7-6(4); beat Hewitt 6-3, 6-4; beat Moya 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Beat Safin 6-3, 7-6(18) in the semi-finals. Beat Hewitt 6-3, 6-2 in the finals.

    Roger Federer with Masters Cup Trophy
    Roger Federer with Masters Cup Trophy.

    Roger Federer with 2004 Number One Ranking Trophy
    Roger Federer with 2004 Number One Ranking Trophy.

    Federer was just... amazing. Grace and elegance on the court. As smart and unpretentious a fellow as you could ever hope to meet off the court. He plays without a coach, and unlike some of the other players having entourages numbering in the dozens, he travels with just three people (his girlfriend, his trainer, and a friend). Again and again in interviews he showed how humbled and appreciative he was of his circumstances, and how much he loves the game he plays. In just one instance, he marveled over the beauty and fun of the record setting tie-break he had played with Safin: "That tiebreaker was very special. I've never played such a tiebreaker in a match, even in a practice. It was really fun, it just went back and forth," Federer said. "The level of play was very high as well. It wasn't like we were giving each other all those points. We were pushing each other to the limits. The tiebreaker was special, but I thought also the whole match was also a great one."

    Federer ended 2004 with a clear hold on the number one ranking, adding the Masters Cup to a year in which he won 11 titles, including the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open Championships, and saw him losing only six matches the entire year.

    More Roger Federer photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

As we head into 2005, Roger Federer appears to begin the year just as he began 2004--a clear level above the rest of the field. Following Federer is a second tier group including Hewitt, Roddick, Safin, Henman, Moya, and Agassi. Following behind this group are perhaps another one to two dozen players that can mount strong challenges depending on circumstances and playing surfaces.

More miscellaneous singles player photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

The Doubles

At the WTA Championships, the doubles were played in just two rounds, with the top four ranked teams pairing off for a pair of semi-finals in the first round, and then the winners playing in the finals in the second round.

In the semi-finals, Petrova/Shaughnessy upset No.2-seeded Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Likhovtseva, 6-3, 6-2, while Black/Stubbs defeated top seeds and defending champions Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez, 7-6(7), 6-4. In the finals, Russian Nadia Petrova and American Meghann Shaughnessy won the doubles title with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Wimbledon champions Cara Black and Rennae Stubbs.

Masters Cup Doubles Runners-Up Kevin Ullyett (left) Wayne Black (2nd from left) and Doubles winners Mike and Bob Bryan.
Masters Cup Doubles Runners-Up Kevin Ullyett (left) Wayne Black (2nd from left) and Doubles Champions Mike and Bob Bryan.

At the Masters Cup, the doubles were played with a full field of eight teams competing in a similar round-robin/semi-finals/finals structure to the singles competition.

In the round-robin matches, Knowles and Nestor finished undefeated in their group, with Black and Ullyett coming in second. In the other group, Bjorkman and Woodbridge finished undefeated, with Mike and Bob Bryan coming in second. In the semi-finals, Black and Ullyett surprised Bjorkman and Woodbridge with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat, and Mike and Bob Bryan bested Knowles and Nestor 6-2, 6-4. In a close final, Mike and Bob Bryan defeated Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. Kevin Ullyett was probably the most entertaining player to watch in the doubles event, with tremendous shotmaking throughout.

Lots more doubles player photos from the 2004 Masters Cup Championships.

Odds and Ends

How Suite It Is: After investing $400,000 in upgrading the facilities at the Westside Tennis Club for the 2004 Masters Cup, the club's owners decided to take the suites that Federer, Hewitt and Roddick had used during the tournament, add beds and other furnishing to them (undoubtedly coming from Westside Tennis Club owner Jim McIngvale's Gallery Furniture store) and offer them out to the general public on a weekend tennis getaway package. Because the package provides the extraordinary opportunity to play on all four Grand Slam surfaces at one club: Wimbledon Grass, Australian Rebound Ace, French Red Clay, and U.S. Hard Courts, we felt that the deal was so cool that we had to take some photos of the suites and pass it on to our readers. Aside from a lack of windows in the suites, the accommodations looked pretty nice. Benefits of the two-night, $295 per person (based on double occupancy) package include:

  • Accommodations in Masters Cup Players' Suites
  • Use of the player's billiard room and movie/play station room
  • Meals and Drinks
  • Friday evening Social Tennis Mixer
  • Saturday morning tennis drills program
  • Free play time Saturday afternoon, early Saturday evening, and Sunday Morning
  • Saturday dinner in Stadium Luxury Suite
  • Sunday Champagne Brunch

Westside Suite
Westside Suite.
Billiards Room
Billiards Room.

See larger views of the accommodations using this link.

Packages can be booked by calling Westside Tennis Club at 713-783-1620 or toll free (from the U.S.) at 1-866-486-2849.

Selling Ads For DEUCE: At a party at the Masters Cup event, the ATP announced an agreement with Skies America International Publishing & Communications to publish its flagship magazine DEUCE on a quarterly basis starting in 2005. DEUCE had previously published on an annual basis. Beautifully produced, DEUCE is a high-quality print magazine covering men's professional tennis. Former Tennis Server columnist David Higdon, currently ATP Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, serves as Editor-in-Chief of DEUCE. Higdon is also executive producer of a new DVD Tennis Masters Cup Uncovered II, currently in production. The program will provide a behind-the-scenes insider's view of the personalities and drama that made up the 2004 Masters Cup.

DEUCE Launch
DEUCE team from left: Laurent Delanney- ATP Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales; John Mendez- Skies Production Director; Jacque Merrill- Skies Art Director; Jim Rullo- Skies President; David Higdon- ATP Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, and DEUCE editor-in-chief; Sheri Patterson- Skies Senior Vice President; Heidi McBride- Skies Account Executive; Matt Williams- Skies Editorial Director; Brenda Cooner- Skies Account Executive; Paul MacPhereson- ATP Managing Editor.

I'll Drink To That: In light of recent concerns regarding the contamination of sports supplements with anabolic steroids, ATP's player members had faced a dilemma over whether to use sports supplements. While many players felt that these supplements were helpful in maintaining their health and performance, players were unwilling to expose themselves to the possible risks of consuming contaminated products. At the Masters Cup, the ATP announced that it is taking a proactive lead in the battle against contaminated sports supplements. The ATP Task Force on Supplements, consisting of both medical experts and ATP players (including Andre Agassi and Tim Henman), investigated potential partnerships with pharmaceutical manufacturers who could offer players safe and effective sports nutrition products by following a rigorous quality assurance and testing program that would ensure the purity of the products.

The ATP Task Force completed its work with a recommendation for a sweeping and mandatory player education program on supplements, diet and nutrition, coupled with a commitment from a major multinational pharmaceutical company (GlaxoSmithKline) to produce, test and supply reliable and uncontaminated sports nutrition products to ATP players. Beginning in January 2005, players will be required to participate in the educational program, and the supplements will be available to the players for ordering over a secure Internet site. These products include the Lucozade Sport orange and lemon body fuel drink mix, hydrate performance drink mix, recovery drink mix, carbo gel, and energy bar. Later in 2005, GlaxoSmithKline plans to make the same contamination-free products available to the general public, so that recreational players can also take these supplements without risking the accidental ingestion of steroids.

A copy of the ATP Task Force on Supplements Report, and other related information on the work of the Task Force, is available at http://www.atptennis.com/en/antidoping/taskforce.asp.

All photographs used in this article are Copyright 2004 by Cliff Kurtzman. Please request and obtain permission prior to any reuse.

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